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Araujia - The Cruel Plant - Growing Guide
The theme of our stand at Chelsea in 2017 was ‘Plants as Pollinators’ and a key feature of this was the ‘Cruel Plant’. A bizarre plant with a good story!
Araujia sericofera is a vigorous, twining, evergreen climber that grows in many parts of South America. You see it growing like a weed all over fences and trees on field edges in the corn belts of Argentina where it can grow up to 20ft in frost free areas.
The derivation of its common name is peculiar and unusual. It is clearly as true in the UK as it is in South America. The plant produces racemes of white (sometimes pale pink) flowers which are oblong and bell shaped with a swelling at the base. The sticky pollen within the individual flowers causes moths, with their long proboscises, to get trapped within the flower. Sometimes they escape but very often, at least in the Burncoose conservatory, they remain stuck and die suspended from or just inside the flower in the morning. We have seen our stockplant literally covered with dead moths at the height of the flowering season in mid summer and even in the autumn as the plant goes on producing flowers periodically over several months.
This is a conservatory or greenhouse plant in most of the UK but it will survive outside on a sheltered wall in the mildest areas. It produces huge oval grey-green seed pods of up to 5in in length and seems to do this more regularly when grown outside on a hot south facing wall.
The Araujia seeds are easily germinated but it is also easily grown from cuttings. We have full and detailed article about collecting, storing and growing seeds if you are interested in reading more.